Jan 10, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Atlanta Hawks center Dwight Howard (8) reacts to fans during second half against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center. The Hawks won 117-97. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
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The Atlanta Hawks won their seventh game in a row by taking down the Brooklyn Nets. Who had the best individual performance of the night?
I’ve been told that winning basketball games is much more enjoyable than losing basketball games. I have to say, I agree with that very much. The Atlanta Hawks have been winning basketball games at a high rate lately.
Their win against the Nets on Tuesday night gave them their seventh win in a row. They also went a perfect 4-0 on their most recent road trip. The team that was fighting to stay above .500 in late 2016, now has a 22-16 record. What a difference a few weeks makes.
Quite frankly, the Hawks dominated Brooklyn. They shot 47.8 percent from the field, while holding the Nets to 40.2 percent shooting. Brooklyn’s 10-for-29 effort from beyond the arc kept this from being an absolute blowout.
Atlanta won the rebounding battle, collecting 53 board to Brooklyn’s 48. Brook Lopez had 20 points on the night, but finished the game with just two rebounds. I wonder if Nets fans yell about him not getting rebounds the way Hawks fans yelled about Al Horford not getting rebounds. Ah, memories!
The Hawks struggled from outside, shooting just 7-for-23 on three-point attempts, but they still managed to pile up 117 points. Six Hawks scored in double figures, and ten scored six points or more.
It was a complete display by the Hawks, both offensively and defensively. Head Coach Mike Budenholzer had mixed feelings about the victory, because of the man standing on the other sideline. Here’s what he told the media post-game.
“Well, you feel a bit for Kenny Atkinson tonight. Brooklyn is trying to build something here. I care so much about him and I want good for him, so it is a little bit hard.”
Atkinson was on Budenholzer’s staff in Atlanta before taking the Brooklyn job this past off-season. Atkinson is renowned for his work in player development. He worked extensively with players like DeMarre Carroll and Kent Bazemore, helping them turn into reliable role players. Brooklyn may not have the pieces to be competitive just yet, but they’ve got the right man to lead the rebuild.
Let’s take a look at some of the standout individual performances of the night.
Jan 10, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Atlanta Hawks guard Dennis Schroder (17) is fouled by Brooklyn Nets forward Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (24) during second half at Barclays Center. The Hawks won 117-97.Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
The Starting Five
It’s funny. The coach that helped Dennis Schroder improve his jump-shot over the last few seasons was standing on the opposite sideline tonight. Schroder used that reformed jumper to beat Kenny Atkinson’s Nets. Schroder finished with 19 points and 10 assists on 7-for-14 shooting and 2-for-4 on three-point attempts. His mid-range pull-up jumper was unstoppable. He punished defenders that went under screens by draining open look after open look. Have I mentioned that Schroder is really good?
The difficult season continues for Kent Bazemore. He remains the most likable guy in the NBA, so I’m going to keep supporting him. Bazemore ended his night with six points, three rebounds, and two steals on 1-for-7 shooting. I still respect him for bringing back the headband look. Not enough players wear headbands today. The NBA needs to have headband day, where every player on both team has to wear a headband. I wouldn’t make a good commissioner.
Thabo Sefolosha was aggressive in the early parts of this game, scoring six points in the first quarter. He couldn’t quite keep up that pace, but he still finished with 10 points, four rebounds, two assists, two steals, and one block. There was one particular sequence early in the game that highlighted how good a defender Sefolosha is. Bojan Bogdanovic caught the ball behind the three-point line and steadied himself to shoot, he looked to be wide open. That is until Sefolosha came flying out at him with one of the hardest closeouts I’ve ever seen. Bogdanovic pump faked. Sefolosha bit, then recovered. After once again having an open look quickly taken away, Bogdanovic traveled. It was a small moment in a game where the Hawks would win easily, but Sefolosha was closing out like it was the NBA Finals.
It looked like Paul Millsap was going to have one of his worst games of the season. He didn’t even record a made field goal until the second half. Then the fourth quarter happened. He scored nine points in a row, got Atlanta’s lead to an insurmountable margin, then took a seat. It was true mercenary work. Millsap finished the game with 14 points, eight rebounds, and four assists on 6-for-14 shooting. Even when Millsap’s having a bad game, he’s not having a bad game. Maybe taking him off the trade market was a good idea.
I don’t care about anything else that happened in the NBA yesterday, because Dwight Howard dabbed in Jeremy Lin‘s face. Can Adam Silver give him the MVP award for that? It seems like he should, right? On the court, Howard also had a fine evening. He finished with 14 points and 16 rebounds on 6-for-9 shooting. He was 2-for-8 from the free-throw line, but we’ll give him a pass because of the double-double and the dab.
Jan 10, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Atlanta Hawks forward Taurean Prince (12) shoots the ball over Brooklyn Nets guard Bojan Bogdanovic (44) during second half at Barclays Center. The Hawks won 117-97. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
Malcolm Delaney had his best game in quite awhile against Brooklyn. He couldn’t miss from the field. Delaney scored 12 points on 5-for-6 shooting and 1-for-2 from three-point range. He also had one assist and one rebound. He did so in just 16 minutes of action. That’s what we like to call efficiency.
Extended Taurean Prince minutes! God bless America. Prince played 20 minutes against the Nets, showcasing the aggressiveness and energy that makes him such a tantalizing prospect. He only shot 2-for-6 from the floor, but both makes were three-pointers. He stuffed the stat sheet in other ways. Prince finished the game with eight points, six rebounds, two blocks, one assist, and one steal. I’ve seen the future. Taurean Prince is going to be one heck of an NBA player.
Tim Hardaway Jr.
Tim Hardaway Jr.’s hot shooting had to cool down at some point. He still had a productive game. THJ scored nine points, dished out four assists, and grabbed two rebounds in 22 minutes. He shot 3-for-9 from the field and 1-for-3 from long distance. Hopefully this was just a temporary detour.
It was a quiet, productive game for Mike Muscala. Muscala had nine points, four rebounds, two blocks, and one steal in 23 minutes of action. He also has better hair than Jeremy Lin.
Kris Humphries was a two-way dynamo last night. There’s no other way to say it. The guy came to play. Humphries scored 13 points and grabbed 8 rebounds on 5-for-8 shooting. He did all this in only 16 minutes. He also finished a pair of open floor fast-break layups that confused and delighted Hawks fans everywhere. I wonder if the Hawks front office is going to try and spin him as a Paul Millsap alternative to teams seeking a trade? “Yes, I know he’s not Millsap. Did you see what he did against Brooklyn? He’s a monster!” No? You’re right.
NOTE: Mike Scott and DeAndre’ Bembry only played seven combined minutes. That is too small of a sample size to give them each a grade. Carry on.
Jan 10, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Brooklyn Nets center Brook Lopez (11) and Jeremy Lin watch the final second from the bench during second half against Atlanta Hawks at Barclays Center. The Atlanta Hawks defeated the Brooklyn Nets 177-97. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
The Brooklyn Nets
Poor Brook Lopez. He’s stuck on a team going nowhere, wasting his prime. He led the Nets in scoring, dropping 20 points against Atlanta. Not far behind him was Bojan Bogdanovic, who had 16 points on 3-for-5 shooting from three-point range. They’re a really bad team at the moment, but there are some positives. Kenny Atkinson is going to be a good coach. Jeremy Lin will eventually be healthy and is on a relatively cheap contract. Lopez might be able to fetch a few assets at the trade deadline. They have some talented young guys like Caris LeVert and Sean Kilpatrick. Still, the Nets did not play well against the Hawks, allowing Dennis Schroder and Dwight Howard to dominate, on their way to a 20-point victory. It will get better, Nets fans. I’m just not sure when.
Jan 10, 2017; Brooklyn, NY, USA; Atlanta Hawks head coach Mike Budenholzer during second half against the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center. The Atlanta Hawks defeated the Brooklyn Nets 177-97. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports
The Head Coach
Head Coach,Atlanta Hawks
Mike Budenholzer is going to keep getting A’s until the Hawks lose. That’s the rule. Seven wins in a row and 4-0 on the road trip. That’s impressive. Especially when you consider all the noise that has been surrounding the team in recent weeks. Trade rumors have to be stressful. Kudos to Budenholzer and his staff for keeping the focus on basketball. The schedule gets a little harder in the coming weeks. Let’s see if he can keep it going.
That’s it for Atlanta’s road trip. They return home to Phillips Arena on Friday. There they’ll face some familiar faces. The Boston Celtics come to town, bringing with them Hawks legend Al Horford. It will undoubtedly be an emotional night.